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SEC's Gensler Taps Law Professor for Key Post

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What You Need to Know

  • Birdthistle will bring remarkable expertise in investment funds to the SEC, Gensler said.
  • IRI looks forward to working with him on Regulation Best Interest implementation and compliance.
  • Prior to academia, he practiced law at Ropes & Gray in Boston.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has named William Birdthistle, currently a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law, as director of the Division of Investment Management.

The Division oversees regulatory policy for investment advisors and investment companies, including mutual funds and other investment products.

“Professor Birdthistle will bring remarkable expertise in investment funds to the SEC,” said SEC Chairman Gary Gensler in a statement.

“The Division of Investment Management develops regulatory policies to oversee investment companies and investment advisers so that American investors can confidently save to buy homes, pay for college, or plan for retirement. I look forward to working closely with William to execute our mission,” he explained.

Gensler thanked Sarah ten Siethoff for serving as the Division of Investment Management’s acting director and for serving as his counsel during his first eight months as chairman. “I look forward to continuing to work with her going forward,” Gensler said.

“The SEC’s Division of Investment Management has an exceptional reputation for protecting investors in funds and the asset management arena,” Birdthistle added. “I am eager to work with the dedicated staff behind those efforts to carry out the policy agenda that Chair Gensler has established to help investors and others.”

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Jason Berkowitz, Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs Officer at the Insured Retirement Institute, said in a statement that IRI looks forward to working with Birdthistle “on several important regulatory issues, including Regulation Best Interest implementation and compliance, regulatory modernization, electronic solutions and disclosures, the development of a product-specific registration form for registered index-linked annuities (RILAs) and others.”

Birdthistle joined the faculty at Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2006, and earned the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2010.

He also has served as a visiting professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School, where he won the Award for Teaching Excellence in 2019 for teaching securities regulation. His research explores investment funds, securities regulation, and corporate governance. He has also served as counsel of record on multiple amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prior to academia, he practiced law at Ropes & Gray in Boston for five years as a corporate associate in the firm’s investment management practice.

Birdthistle received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review, and received a B.A. summa cum laude in English and psychology from Duke University in 1995.